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GC GREEN COUNTRY SCENE

FULL CIRCLE FROM ITS SILENT ERA SUCCESS IN THE ‘20S, TO BEING SHUTTERED BEFORE BEING REOPENED IN 2004, THE CIRCLE CINEMA IS BACK TO PROMOTING COMMUNITY CONSCIOUSNESS WITH A MODERN ART-HOUSE LOOK AND FEEL. BY JOHN TRANCHINA + PHOTOS BY SARAH ELIZA ROBERTS

56 JULY 2018

This Tulsa icon is about to celebrate its 90th anniversary, but it certainly doesn’t feel old.

Oklahoma Walk of Fame. The building is even on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Circle Cinema opened at 10 S. Lewis St. (at the corner of E. Admiral Boulevard) in 1928, during the era of silent films, but it is as vibrant and healthy as it’s ever been, especially since it was refurbished and reopened as a modern arthouse cinema in 2004.

The motto of Clark Wiens, president and co-founder of the Circle Cinema Foundation, is “community consciousness through film,” and that mission is behind every film they bring in, including occasional free showings.

“The idea was, I wanted to use movies to teach tolerance. We’re trying to educate our community, in a diverse and the most eclectic way we can, about everything,” Wiens said. “As long as it’s not anti-Semitic or obscene, we’re showing it. Sure, we’d like to have people pay for it, but some deals we don’t make a dime on and lose thousands. That’s really what’s driven the boat all along, educating our community. My goal’s always been that 20-25 percent of the titles would be free, so The Circle has four different that anybody can come to it. screens, with seating varying But if you don’t make money from about 50 to 225 and on one side, you can’t give shows primarily independent it on the other. So I always films, foreign movies knew we’d have to have a and thought-provoking commercial enterprise to documentaries, as well be successful.” as revisited classics ( for example, they recently had The Circle Theater first the 1980s Tulsa favorite The opened July 15, 1928, with Outsiders, which includes a a showing of the silent film scene filmed at the Circle), Across the Atlantic, and often with relevant guest was located on the original speakers and audience Route 66 alignment. While discussions. With a nice it had a pretty prominent blend of modern amenities place in Tulsa society for and a historical, old-school much of its existence, the appeal reflecting its original theater began to struggle in design, the theater also has the 1970s. As the Whittier the original 1928 restored Square neighborhood Robert Morton pipe organ, around it declined, business an art gallery space and an suffered and in 1978, the The festivities surrounding the big 90th birthday will include special film screenings with guests such as Tulsa actresses Mary Kay Place, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Peggy Dow Helmerich during the week of July 8-15. The epic nature of those events underscores just how vital a piece of the Tulsa community the theater has become since it was purchased and renovated by the Circle Cinema Foundation.

Profile for Preview 918

July 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 7)  

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July 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 7)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...